There is more than one vote taking place, right now a radical much favoured sway in the UK towards Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM). Considering up to an estimated 340,000 new homes are needed to be built per year homes built by Local Authorities have fallen since the 1970’s when we are at our most needy time to house our population despite Housing Associations building more.
ACE Modular Construction have witnessed the past few months in particular tangible genuine interest in OSM, larger UK contractors wishing to be more competitive in their tenders reducing build time and improving quality. But those that are ‘tyre kicking’ developers & contractors unfortunately won’t be entertained by European or other OSM’s, without serious substance. Successful, proven cash rich & ready for serious financially led expansion overseas factories can afford to be selective who to engage with, carrying out detailed due diligence on each potential property development partner with suitable & sustainable pipeline. The fact is I am afraid to say that UK OSM’s do not have capacity anywhere near for large scale developments yet despite growth and yet lagging behind the rest of the world. Collaboration with worldwide supply chain is the key working with professional UK delivery partners sharing risk & profit.
“UK contractors & developers are beginning to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to Off-Site Construction”
- Height Limitations:- with limited production capacity worldwide, for the creation of towers, London in particular with little space available, there is only one way to go…..and that is obviously upwards. The hunt is on for worldwide for OSM’s that successfully deliver multiple storeys and above working closely with experienced structural engineers, the additional critical part of the process. The majority of Baltic OSM’s have not built really much over 8-10 storeys but things are changing. In addition to these factories, most, if not all worthy facade companies are booked production capacity-wise for 4-5 years. Facade engineers such as our friends Staticus from Lithuania have made incredible progress the past few years expanding in to the UK, and other countries at a rapid rate.
“property developers will struggle to source capacity if they don’t approach OSM’s with a collaborative approach.”
- UK Modular Factories are mostly small in comparison to the Baltics’, Poland, Germany, Spain, Turkey, America, China etc. In particular aside of existing successful competent mid-side OSM’s, new factories, thinking perhaps it was easier, are either seriously delayed towards full production, some up to double over budget but ultimately not able to commit to sufficient production capacity to make a serious contribution to the housing crisis. Time is passing fast, competition moving quicker than ever with Scandinavian & American investment amongst others entering the UK market. The key issue is when even built the UK factories (aside of the likes of Tide Construction, Elements Europe & Caledonian) do not have the experience compared to overseas for production roll-out for significant number of homes to be built with sustainable quality. Without suitable relations in place, as yet overseas, some contractors & developers naturally default to traditional build which is deemed less risky and sometimes understandable based on their experience. Those new larger handful of UK OSM’s that are making progress are still realistically 18-36 months away from creating over & above prototypes.
- The Baltics’ alone have been producing modular homes for many decades to very high standards purposely for ‘high quality demanding’ Scandinavia and now more than ever deciding to consider the UK for export opportunities. Despite less attractive profit margins they are now appreciating sustainable growth makes more sense even taking in to consideration BREXIT. The UK construction sector is driven much by cost but realising fast the speed of build program combined with quality factory built modules is worth exploring further keeping clients & investors happy. Clear instructions now coming from the top so middle management downwards are set to fulfil their duty to act accordingly to adopt modern methods of construction (MMC) and on a major scale.